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Best Australian made cars

Best Australian made cars

For many years the vast majority of cars sold in Australia were locally-assembled.

Nowadays that number has dwindled to zero, with Ford in 2016 and Holden and Toyota in 2017 the last car makers to call it quits.

But as we celebrate another Australia Day, evidence of our once mighty car industry proliferates on CARS24. Examples of the Ford Falcon and Territory, Holden Commodore and Toyota Camry and Aurion are all plentiful.

It makes for quite a mix; sedans, wagons, utes and SUVs; front-, rear- and all-wheel drive; frugal four-cylinders, strong six-cylinders, vociferous V8s and even a petrol-electric hybrid;

All up, plenty of space, grace and pace is what you’ll find, reflecting the fact these are cars not only Aussie-built but designed for Aussie conditions as well.

Ford Falcon

The final roll of the dice for Ford manufacturing in Australia was the FG X Falcon and that’s the model you’ll find on the CARS24 website.

It had only a short life, from November 2014 to October 2016 and was a relatively minor update upon which Ford spent $103 million – in auto terms that’s not a huge amount of money.

The FG X was based on the last all-new Falcon, the 2008 FG, which was also the seventh generation launched since the first XK Falcon rolled off the Campbellfield production line in 1960.

FG X adopted a ‘big mouth’ front fascia that reflected Ford’s global styling language of the time and joined the modern connectivity age by featuring the wifi-enabled SYNC2 infotainment system.

The big news for enthusiasts was the return of the V8 engine for the first time since 2010 and with it the famed XR8 badge.

In fact, the final Falcon had that rare distinction of being a car available with four-cylinder, six-cylinder and V8 engines.

There were eight sedan and five ute models in the final Falcon range, with the farewell edition XR6 and XR8 Sprints the star attractions.

The last Falcon displayed why people had become fans of this car through its history; simple, powerful, comfortable and spacious it had an admirable ability to lope along our beat up and busted country roads with a calm rear-wheel drive surety much more expensive imports struggled to match.

Ford Territory

The Territory earns a unique place in Australian automotive history as the only local mass-produced SUV.

Yes, Holden fans are jumping up and down shouting ‘Adventra’, but that was a 4x4 Commodore wagon rather than a stand-alone vehicle.

The Territory was definitely its own deal, even if it shared its core platform and some drivetrain elements with the Falcon.

The Territory had its own unique and highly versatile five-door body that could house up to seven people and a heap of nick-nacks in an amazingly versatile cabin.

It came with the choice of both all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive and from 2011 it added a 2.7-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine (the only V6 ever fitted to an Aussie-made Ford) alongside the 4.0-litre petrol engine that had been the sole choice under the bonnet since the Territory’s 2004 launch.

It all added up to an SUV that was relaxed and enjoyable for a family to drive or ride in and comfortably able to account for a trip to the shops or around the country.

On CARS24 you’ll find Territorys from the final SZ II iteration dominating the inventory. This model sold from October 2014 to the cessation of all Ford local production two years later.

Holden Commodore VFII

The Holden Commodore we’re talking about here is the last of the locally manufactured breed and also the best. You’ll also find ZB Commodores on CARS24, but they are imports based on the German Opel Insignia.

The VFII was the October 2015 update of the May 2013 VF, which in turn derived from the 2005 VE, the first Commodore generation to be solely developed in Australia using an all-new component set.

The previous three Commodore generations dating back to 1978 all borrowed platform parts from Opel, which was also owned by General Motors.

The VFII was built until the closure of Holden’s last plant in Adelaide in October 2017. The brand itself survived until 2020 before GM dropped the boom.

So maybe a car no longer built from a brand that no longer exists doesn’t inspire confidence, but go for a drive before you make any hard and fast decisions.

There are sedans, wagons and utes to choose from and V6 and V8 engines. All that means the Commodore VFII was something of a chameleon when it comes to character.

An Evoke is transport, a Calais is comfortable and seriously good at gobbling up country miles and an SS-V is sports-focussed with addictive V8 grunt.  There is space aplenty in the cabin and the VFII also had the highest level of tech and connectivity ever sold in a Holden or just about any Australian built car.

Toyota Camry and Aurion

Built in Australia from 1987 to 2017, the Toyota Camry never had the passionate following of the Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore.

But when it came to efficiently doing its job no local car did better. There are reasons the Camry is a fleet favourite and they include efficiency and spaciousness.

That willingness to slurp only limited amounts of fuel was especially pronounced in the petrol-electric Hybrid built in Australia from 2009 to 2017 and nowadays by far the most popular model on offer.

At the opposite end of the scale is the Aurion, which was the name used from 2006 to 2017 to differentiate what was essentially a Camry with a larger, more powerful and thirstier V6 engine.

And what of that generous Camry interior space? Much of that was down to its compact front-wheel drive layout, which meant more room for the cabin and less for oily bits under the floor driving the rear wheels. It also delivered a safe and secure driving experience.

There are two Camry generations featuring in the CARS24 inventory, the locally-built seventh-generation and the current imported model.

The last locally built Camry is a decent car that does a workmanlike job, but if you can stretch to the newer model it’s worth considering. It was a complete overhaul and an obvious improvement over its predecessor.